Essex Record Office

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A smart and well-organised facility hosting everything Essex wishes to keep for posterity.

Authority Essex County Council
Location Wharf Road, Chelmsford, Essex CM2 6YT. See map
Membership/ID Location-specific membership card; see below
Camera policy Permissive; £12.75 per day

What is held here

All archive material generated by Essex County Council is here, along with documents from towns and rural districts. Ecclesiastical records from across the county are also stored at the ERO along with other miscellaneous items bequeathed by outside organisations and charities.

How to use it

The ERO has its own building on the waterfront just outside Chelmsford town centre. The building suggests the County Council spend good money on this facility and as archives go it's decidedly impressive; the wasteland surroundings suggest the edge-of-town-centre location is still awaiting regeneration.

It's 10-15 minutes' walk from Chelmsford station. There's no parking on site and you can't actually drive up to the building at all, so if you are arriving by car aim for Baddow Road Long Stay car park, linked directly to the ERO by a footbridge over the river, (though it fills up quickly), or Meadows Retail car park which is on a bend in the river about two minutes' walk away.

On arrival, head upstairs, where you'll find a locker room for coats and bags. You'll need to register for a reader's ticket if you don't already have one, which involves filling in a short form and bringing any picture ID. This is done through a cashier's window, as though they fear an armed robbery.

Everything at the ERO is a bit more fussy and officious than seems strictly necessary, so you will then need to show your ticket to the person through the glass who has just given it to you, and they will open the reading room door and "check you in".

The catalogue is entirely online and can be viewed before you visit. Documents are ordered using the online system, which will require you to enter your reader's ticket number about five times for every item you order. The arrival of your items is indicated by your name being flashed up in red LEDs on large signs around the reading room. Collect them from the front desk, where they will be literally weighed and the weight recorded to ensure you bring back precisely what you took out. Your reader's ticket will be taken off you while you have a document out and given back when you return it, which makes it fiddly to order further documents unless you memorise the number.

Photography must be carried out at the tables next to the front desk, not at your seat. A camera pass must be bought if you wish to take photographs and a form filled in listing not just the files you photographed but also how many exposures you took of each one. The form is returned when you leave.

Downstairs, you'll find bathroom facilities, tables to eat your lunch and vending machines for drinks and snacks. There's no food on site, though, so if you didn't bring your own lunch, take a five minute walk back to Chelmsford Town Centre.

Items found here

See the full list for this establishment.